YouTube, TikTok have supplanted Facebook as teens’ social media of choice

A recent report from Pew Research shows that while TikTok’s growth among teens is substantial, YouTube still reigns supreme among social platforms with those age 13-17. Pew’s study found that 95% of teens “ever use” YouTube. TikTok ranks second among teens, with 67% reporting that they “ever use” the short-form video social platform.

YouTube and TikTok are both video-focused social networking platforms. More traditional social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, saw sharp declines from the last time Pew Research ran a similar study on social media usage among teens in 2014-2015. Facebook in particular has seen its share of teens using the platform drop precipitously from 71% in the 2014-15 survey to 32% in the most recent study.

It’s an astonishing rise for TikTok in its less than five years of existence since re-launching in 2018 after rebranding from It reached 1 billion active users last September – making it the fastest social media platform to reach that milestone. It has also been branching out in how it is used, finding more adoption among teens and young adults as a search engine, particularly for how-to tutorial videos, recipes, and dining and travel recommendations. As a result, TikTok toppled Google as the most visited domain worldwide in 2021, according to Cloudflare.

Interpret’s VideoWatch data finds that the most common activities done on social media are sending messages, posting comments, and watching videos—and TikTok users engage in all three of these activities more often than other social media users. It also shows that both TikTok users and teens are more likely to follow brands and celebrities on social media, making it a useful platform for marketing to teens and young adults.

Brands have noticed. Fashion, dining, and entertainment brands have made their way to the social network. Everyone from Chipotle to Fendi to Roblox is leveraging the platform for marketing and awareness. Children’s edutainment brand Sesame Street joined the platform recently as well. Some of the world’s top brands have partnered with TikTok influencers for product collaborations or sponsored videos. As TikTok continues to grow, brands will continue to attempt to creatively leverage the platform.

There’s no question that TikTok has tapped into the cultural zeitgeist among today’s youth, but as the wider metaverse takes hold, it’ll be interesting to see if the video platform remains as attractive to teens.

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